Thursday, September 15, 2005

On ReReading

I'm slow getting to it, but a post Johanna made over the weekend got me thinking. Not about the topic of Ellis' online persona, but about the necessity of including a "story so far" bit in Desolation Jones. She makes a good point about new readers, though I think sites like Spoilt! can fill the void. I also think most retailers worth their salt will try to keep some back issues in stock so they can say "Just getting into Jones? Here's the issues you'd want - at cover price." Or they might say "It's near the end of the first story arc now .... the new one starts next month, I'll hold a copy for you."

As far as continuing readers go: does anyone else constantly re-read arcs? It's not like Johanna's the only one: the same idea is there when Mr. Fish looks at Ellis' Iron Man. They way these stories are parceled out, combined with the sheer number of titles almost ensures that I will pick up a new issue of Planetary with only a fuzzy memory of what happened last month. Since I'm just getting back into comics, I had a chance to plan a good way to manage it, for lack of a better term. I keep a file cabinet with hanging files for each series, or collective ones for Infinite Crisis stuff, or the Superman books. Older stuff and completed series end up in a short box, but the files handle everything current. Then, each week when I get new books, I pull the folder and re-read that entire arc before getting to the new issue.

It takes more time, obviously, but I like doing it because I feel like I'm getting more value for my dollar. To spend three bucks on a 5-10 minute read is a waste ... but if I know I'll be re-reading it five or six times, it's more palatable. Since books are being "written for trade", I read them as such, even if that trade isn't complete or published yet. I think many of our reading habits were formed in an earlier time, when more comics were done-in-one.Pick up this week's issues, read them, and put them away. But maybe a new aesthetic requires a new reading habit. Perhaps some of the complaints about unsatisfying decompressed comics comes from reading them as if they were intended to be self contained?


joncormier said...

I like the idea of re-reading an arc when the next issue comes out however that's more wishful thinking on my part than practical reality. If I'm completely lost, I'll go back otherwise I don't.

I have to admit that I too am "returning" to comics and I'm a bigger fan of trades than floppies at the moment. I can treat the trades as if they were text-only fiction. I pick one up, read it, if there are more in the series and I enjoy it then I get the next one. I don't complain about serialized fiction like Harry Potter taking years to continue the story so why complain about comics that are similar?

I could see that as the starts for change in the market. Go to more of a book publishing schedule but give us the whole story at once. I know I like it and wouldn't be upset if there were more "trade only" stories out there that aren't OGNs. But that's just me and I don't think it's a perfect solution for everyone. Although you get X number of pages that aren't interupted by commercial breaks.

philkline36958661 said...
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Mark Fossen said...

My first comment spam! It's like losing my blogging virginity!

The balance between floppy and trade is sure an odd one, jon. I can't tell where things are headed. I've a post tucked away in draft state somewhere about the way marvel and DC are so opposite here. marvel's writing for trade to such a degree that except for a few books, I feel like I should just hold off for the trade - there's no overall universe to worry about, so why keep up?

DC, on the other hand ... this Infinite Crisis stuff is not going to collect well, methinks. Too huge and wild and intertwined ... which is definitely making be buy the monthlies.